Who's Who of Professional Women


Renowned as an information technology and risk management expert, Ellen M. Gaston, DBA, used her childhood experiences to shape her career. She initially became interested in technology because of the start of the space program when she was young, and she became interested in law enforcement after her brother was hit by a drunk driver who got off scot-free. The FBI was one of the only places that combined the two and offered women more than a secretarial job, so she made that her target. After earning a Bachelor of Arts from Knox College in 1972, Dr. Gaston successfully landed a job as a computer programmer with the FBI. She quickly advanced within the institution, first to lead computer programmer and then to productivity manager and database manager. Dr. Gaston left in 1983 to explore other options. She spent a decade as an engineer in the Federal Systems Division of IBM before moving on to become a senior principal systems engineer in advanced programs of the Harris Corporation and the program director of the Information Systems Network Corporation. Today, she remains involved as the chief executive officer of Productivity Innovation, Inc., the certified advanced facilitator of the graduate and undergraduate faculty at the University of Phoenix, and a faculty member of Western International University, Inc.

Dr. Gaston is proud of where her career has taken her. Over the years, she has demonstrated leadership performance in risk management, program management, and business development of highly complex, high-risk challenges like organization transformation, data center renovation, and nationwide information technology and data integration, and has developed a strong background with customer relationship management. Dr. Gaston has also led virtual, collaborative, multi-cultural teams and has garnered experience with online survey design, cloud computing and predictive analysis using SPSS in a Windows environment. She shared what she learned through publications like “Designing and Developing Leadership Around Experiential Learning” and “The Relationship of Biotechnology Industry Corporate Social Responsibility to Organization Performance Management.”

To further her professional standing, Dr. Gaston committed herself to continuing education. She wanted to remain up to date on all of the developments in her industry and to connect with her peers, so she obtained a Master of Science from American University in 1983 and a Doctor of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2011. Dr. Gaston also became a certified advanced facilitator, a certified advanced campus assessment liaison and a subject matter expert, and certified in collaborative institutional training. She is particularly proud of earning a doctorate at the age of 60; it was the toughest thing she had ever done.

In recognition of her hard work and dedication, Dr. Gaston received accolades like the Empowering Excellence Award from the University of Phoenix and the Marketing Award for International Business Results from the ISN Corporation. She was also honored with awards for training a delegation from New Delhi in project management from the Mubarak Professional Development Initiatives Program at American University and the ISN Corporation, the Quality Award from the Criminal Justice Division of the FBI and the Teamwork Award from the Harris Corporation, among many others. Her achievements were featured in Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America and the Directory of Distinguished Leadership for Achievements in the Field of Systems Engineering.

When Dr. Gaston has free time, she enjoys swimming, bicycling, reading, art, antiques and poodles.


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